Philippines to amend Constitution to include South China Sea islands

Eventual amendments will emphasize claims over disputed islands and Sabah

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Constitutional amendments to emphasize Philippines' sovereignty claims. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Planned amendments to the Constitution of the Philippines will describe the reach of national sovereignty as including the South China Sea and other historical areas of the country, a member of the review committee said Friday.

Father Ranhilio Aquino, who sits on the consultative body tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, said new clauses would compel the government to protect the nation’s sovereignty, including in areas such as the South China Sea and the Malaysian state of Sabah, the Central News Agency reported.

Opposition groups have accused President Rodrigo Duterte of selling out the country’s sovereignty claims in an effort to improve relations with China.

Once amended in the sense Aquino proposed, the Constitution will include clauses enforcing sovereignty over disputed islands, reefs and a 200-mile economic exclusion zone, as well as the July 2016 ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague which heavily favored the Philippines in its disputes with China.

Aquino denied that the new Constitution would expand the country’s territorial claims, but said that it would international and domestic legislation to clarify its sovereign rights, CNA reported.